Mary Potter OBE lived in Aldeburgh for 30 years, and used her immediate surroundings to inspire her work. This exhibition features a selection from the extensive personal collection of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
Mary Potter OBE (9 April 1900 – 14 September 1981) was an English painter whose best-known work uses a restrained palette of subtle colours. After studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, Potter began her career exhibiting in London in the early 1920s. From the 1950s, her work became increasingly abstract, and she gained wider notice.
In 1951, Potter moved with her husband to Aldeburgh and lived in The Red House which she swapped, in 1957, for Crag House, owned by Benjamin Britten, with whom she became a close friend after her divorce in 1955. Later a studio was built for Potter in The Red House gardens. With her children grown, she spent long hours painting. By mixing paint with beeswax, she achieved a “chalky luminous quality” using a “pale and subtle” range of colours, and her work grew increasingly abstract. In his essay for the catalogue of her 1965 Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition, Mary Potter Paintings 1938–1964, museum director Kenneth Clark said Potter's works “exist in the domain of seeing and feeling; we know that they are exactly right in the same way that we know a singer to be perfectly in tune”; he described her paintings as "enchanting moments of heightened perception”.
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Image: The Swimming Pool, 1966. Mary Potter (1900-1981)